An intensive blitz targeting anglers fishing illegally in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park restricted zones offshore Gladstone saw 21 offences detected over three weeks.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority field management assistant director Andrew Simpson said the blitz was part of a broader no-tolerance stance against poachers, helping protect the Reef against mounting pressures.
“The latest blitz centred on known non-compliance hotspots in the Gladstone area from late March to mid-April, including additional Reef-wide patrols during the school holiday period,” he said.
“We heavily promoted our no-tolerance approach to poaching to ensure fishers were aware patrols would be on the water and in the air day and night, particularly during the holiday period.
“These anglers have no excuse for their actions. Fishing in marine protected areas is a serious offence.”
More than half of the Reef-wide offences (13) were for poaching in no-take green zones.
A further three offences related to fishing in the Scientific Research (orange) Zone at One Tree Island, and five related to fishing with excess lines in a Conservation Park (yellow) Zone.
This weekend’s Boyne Tannum Hook-Up fishing competition south of Gladstone will again support the bltiz, with officers set to use helicopter aerial surveillance in addition to regular sea compliance patrols with partner agencies.
“We want people to enjoy their time in the marine parks, but ensure they understand that everyone has a responsibility to help protect the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Simpson said.
“Free zoning maps are available. Fishers can use a GPS to keep an eye on where they are and it’s recommended they always cross check the location with a zoning map and know how zones are displayed on their GPS.”
Free zoning maps are available at bait and tackle shops, visitor information centres, ship chandlers, the Marine Park Authority, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol offices; or by calling (07) 4750 0700. They can also be downloaded from www.gbrmpa.gov.au.
Members of the public can help to protect the Reef by reporting suspected illegal fishing and other activities to free 24-hour hotline 1800 380 048 or via an online incident report form at www.gbrmpa.gov.au/report-an-incident. Other ways to help protect the Reef can be found here: www.gbrmpa.gov.au/visit-the-reef/responsible-reef-practices/fishing.
Detected offences by management area, 22 March to 15 April:
Cairns/Cooktown – 4
Townsville/Whitsunday – 7
Mackay/Capricorn – 10